862.5151/9–2649: Telegram

The Secretary of State, at New York, to the Acting Secretary of State

top secret

1188. For Acting Secretary and Mr. Rusk from Secretary.

Mr. Schuman called on me at my request this morning at eleven o’clock and stayed about one-half hour. I told him that I had two matters which I should like to discuss with him.

The first related to the devaluation of the German mark. I said that, since my talk with him on Friday afternoon,1 Mr. McCloy had been so constantly at work upon the matter that he had had no sleep for seventy-two hours. He was taking a broad and European view of the matter. (Mr. Schuman interrupted to say that he knew Mr. McCloy so well that he was sure that this was the view he would take.) Mr. McCloy had succeeded in persuading the Germans to propose the twenty percent devaluation and in persuading the British to accept this devaluation. He had flown to Paris, where he now was, and had been unable to get French agreement, because the French insisted as a condition that the German coal price matter should be settled at the same time. I said that Mr. McCloy believed, as did our government, that this was a separate matter and should not be linked with the devaluation. As Mr. Schuman had learned from Mr. Hoffman, Mr. Snyder, and me in Washington our government was opposed to all the dual prices—those proposed by the French and British, as well as those practiced by the Germans; that we would like to see them all straightened out. Mr. McCloy was now returning to Germany.

It was my understanding that Mr. François-Poncet was under instructions from his government in this matter and that this might create a serious problem in resolving the question in Germany. Mr. Schuman said that he understood the matter perfectly; that he thought [Page 461]the matter of the prices could be resolved as we had indicated, and that he would communicate with his government and endeavor to be helpful.

The second matter which I wished to speak to Mr. Schuman about grew out of an apparent misunderstanding of something which Mr. Bonnet had understood me to say. I said that Mr. Wapler, the Counsellor of the Embassy, had arrived in Paris on Friday with a report from the Ambassador on our talks in Washington. The substance of this report had been communicated to our Ambassador, who reported to us that it had caused considerable concern in the Foreign Office and to the Prime Minister.

Mr. Bonnet apparently believed that a historical policy decision had been made in Washington to the effect that special relations would be established by the United States and the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, and that the US relations with nations on the continent would now be altered, contrary to the principles of OEEC, the Atlantic Treaty, etc. I thought it probable that the Ambassador’s view had grown out of an article by the Alsop brothers some days ago, in the light of which he had quite misinterpreted a statement which I had made regarding French leadership on the continent.

Mr. Schuman interrupted to say that he was quite at a loss to understand how anyone could have gotten such an idea; that Bonnet had never expressed it to him; that he had never so interpreted it; and that he remembered well the remark in question which had been made by me to Mr. Bevin, Mr. Schuman and Senator Connally. It was to the effect that the future of Western Europe depended upon the establishment of understanding between the French and the Germans; that this could only be brought about by the French, and only as fast as the French were prepared to go; and that, therefore, the role of the US and UK in this matter was to advise and to assist the French and not put them in the position of being forced reluctantly to accept American or UK ideas.

I then said that I should like to be quite clear that we understood one another by going over this entire matter again. I pointed out the deep concern of the US in Europe, which had been increasingly manifested since the war and which culminated in the Marshall Plan, the NAP, and the MAP bill. These were certainly not steps looking toward the abandonment of France, but, on the contrary, were the increasing association of the US with the Atlantic community. Mr. Schuman agreed enthusiastically.

I said that within this broader concept there were more specific problems which required agreement and action within the broader principles by specific countries, instancing the Brussels treaty, the French–Italian–Benelux economic program, the Council of Europe, [Page 462]and the British–American–Canadian talks.2 Mr. Schuman again agreed.

I then went over our talks with the British, pointing out, as had been pointed out in Washington, that the matter of devaluation had not been advised by us, nor discussed. We had been informed. I assumed that the French believed, as we did, that this was a constructive step. Mr. Schuman agreed.

The short range steps which we might take, such as the purchasing for stockpiling purposes of raw materials, benefited everybody. There was nothing exclusive about this. The longer range problems involved, on the British side, the reduction of their costs so that they could become competitive. On our side, they involved taking such steps as the administration could to continue the lowering of tariff barriers, so that the British, the French, the Dutch, and others would not find that their efforts to earn dollars were blocked by legislative action. There was nothing exclusive about this. Mr. Schuman agreed.

I then went on to say that in the global aspect of matters there were some things which could be done by the US, UK, and France in the Far East as a basis of a common understanding of the problem, and that for the rest, all of us were intensifying our efforts to work through the UN. Here again there was nothing exclusive. Here again Mr. Schuman agreed.

Mr. Schuman expressed his amazement that anyone should have had any different idea. He said that he had never entertained it; that he would talk to Bonnet tomorrow, and together they would do their best to straighten the matter out. He said that misunderstandings often arose when he was absent from Paris. He said that he deeply appreciated the close and confidential relations which existed between him and me and that I could be assured that any doubts or worries which existed in his mind would be promptly communicated to me; that if they were not expressed by him, they did not exist in his mind. This was the case in the present situation.

He added that it was well understood and agreed to by his government at the time of Mr. Snyder’s visit to Europe that the July talks between the US, UK and Canada3 would be followed by later talks of the same character. The only request of his government was that it should be informed after any conclusions had been reached in these talks. He felt that this had been done. He had no complaint.

Acheson
  1. A memorandum of Secretary Acheson’s conversation with Schuman, September 23, is printed on p. 459.
  2. Documentation on the tripartite economic talks in Washington, September 7–12, is in volume iv .
  3. Documentation on Secretary Snyder’s trip to Europe and the United States–United Kingdom–Canadian financial talks during July is in volume iv .